A small Illinois town is getting ready to celebrate its centennial.
Grantfork, Illinois, is a tiny village of 250 people in Madison County, about 35 miles east of St. Louis. In the early 1900’s Grantfork had a booming economy. The small town had 2 physicians, a general store, postmaster, hotel, drug store, 3 blacksmith shops, 2 wagon shops, a harness shop, 3 saloons, 2 churches, a butcher, tinsmith, shoemaker and undertaker.
This weekend they will celebrate their centennial. Although several of the town’s original buildings are still standing, many of them are gone, so the Centennial Committee asked a young artist if she would create a model of the town made from clay.
Kenzie Holzinger is a Freshman art student at SIU Edwardsville. She has been working in mixed media since she was a young child and is mostly self-taught. Every year, she would enter a clay art project in the Madison County fair. That’s where a member of the centennial committee saw her work and asked her to do the project.
“If you see some of my paintings, it’s a lot of aquatic, ocean style of things, so my clay projects kind of have the same theme,” said Holzinger. “I don’t know what she was thinking when she saw this big clay project of whale sharks and was like ‘hey I wonder if she can make a town model,’ so I have no idea.”
Holzinger was able to see and make detailed notes of the buildings that are still around, but many of them have been torn down or remodeled so she had to rely on old photographs. She wasn’t able to get that much detail or colors from those old black and white photographs though.
"I want to do Grantfork justice of what it used to look like and so some of these buildings, I'm like I hope this looks like it, hope the scale is right, but a lot of it is guesswork," said Holzinger.
She was also to collaborate with a long-time resident and relied on his memory of how things looked back then. He was able to help her with some of the details for colors, scale and placement of the buildings.
Holzinger made 28 buildings but still has some minor objects to place on the model such as more trees and gas pumps at the gas station.
Then, she will have to take it apart, move it, and reconstruct it for display at the Village Hall. The centennial celebration is Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.